Starting a Mediation Practice
Essential marketing tips for mediators.
Listed below are ten of the key considerations a mediator would need to focus on when starting their mediation business. Also provided are the links to some useful ports of call to get further information on the topics covered.
Write your mediation practice business plan
Your business plan documents how you aim to make money and secure funding for your business to be effective. It is also where you create your strategy to encourage business growth. Explore your business idea and then adopt strategies to turn those ideas into reality. Think about how you will approach your competitors and the overall market to increase your sales (number of mediation bookings) and profit. Focus on your goals and objectives and be honest about the challenges you are likely to face whilst building your mediation practice. Look at your target market, opportunities for growth and your business model.
Design your mediation brand
Concentrate on voice, tone and brand personality. Think about logo design, brand colours and theme to create your business persona.
Develop your marketing plan and think about your marketing strategy
A marketing plan is the roadmap for your mediation practice. It documents how you intend to organise, execute and review your mediation marketing strategy over a given period of time. Think about your mission statement, budget and tactics for future success.
Build a website and blog
Firstly you need to decide whether you intend to build and maintain your website yourself or whether you want to pay for someone else to do it for you. Factor into your business plan the costs associated with developing your website, whichever method you adopt. Next decide on the website host/builder that suits you best. There are many out there and all have their pros and cons – wix and wordpress are just two options. Your decision may be based partly upon the website plans that each have available and how much they cost and whether they can fulfil your requirements. As part of your marketing and business plan you will have thought about your brand name and you now want to choose a domain name that compliments that. Think about what you want to include on your website and also how you want to promote it.
Create your social media accounts
In a similar vain to building your website, you need to decide whether you will manage your social media accounts yourself or whether you would rather budget to pay an SEO or SMM company to do it for you. Social media for a business is important because it helps to build brand awareness and develop relationship with clients. Amongst the key considerations to get you started are firstly which platforms are right for your business and then secondly who your target audience are to be. These two essential components dictate how quickly and effectively you will build relationships and engage with people in the mediation industry.
Join mediator groups and associations and attend events to build up your networking opportunities
You will be able to start building your network once you have got your website and your social media accounts up and running. Using these two essential tools you can begin to connect with peers and clients. There are then many organisations out there who offer networking services to mediators, some paid and some free. Examples of such organisations include:
Write your mediation profile/CV
The biggest asset you have in your armoury is your mediator CV or profile. The tools in this guide will help you to ensure that you create an accomplished CV. Get tips on how to include how you have built your reputation and provide examples of where you have gained experience.
Seek opportunities to be a mediation observer or assistant
Whilst you are working hard to build your mediation practice up and secure mediation bookings in your own right, it is always a good idea to observe mediations that other experienced mediators are doing. This is a valuable opportunity to watch a mediation in full and experience first-hand what you were taught on your mediation training course. There are many mediation providers who provide such a service and these include:
Organise your mediation practice administration
As part of your mediation business plan you no doubt accounted for your overheads, including administration costs of running your mediation practice. Depending on how you have decided to approach your administration, it is possible to keep the costs of this relatively low. If you decide to do your own administration you will incur barely any costs at all – a small amount of printing maybe and little else. If you decide to outsource your admin or employ someone to support you with the day to day running of your office, your overheads will of course be quite a bit higher. One of your biggest considerations is the documentation that goes along with booking a mediation. There are several practical things you must address such as, a mediation agreement, terms and conditions, fee quotes, correspondence with clients who book a mediation, GDPR i.e privacy policies and data capture, invoicing and accounting.
Sign up to a mediation provider, panel or scheme which offers mediations to start building your experience
Essentially you need to ask yourself do you wish to go it alone, as an independent mediator or do you like the idea of joining an existing panel of mediators who are members of an organisation or scheme? There are of course pros and cons for both approaches. Your decision really comes down to how much support and collegiality you crave. Some mediation panels will also take care of your administration for you as well and if you don’t like the idea of doing your own admin, a mediation panel may be more appealing.
Start actively marketing your mediation practice by approaching clients you have worked with before
No matter what profession you have come from you are always going to have existing contacts and clients that you have worked with before. There are always times of conflict and disputes in all walks of life and so your initial marketing efforts are most likely to be to your current address book. Connect with them on social media and invite them to the launch of your new website. Start building relationships from the outset. It is amazing how doors can be opened with a bit of ingenuity and imagination.
Think about CPD
Currently there is no regulatory body that sets out the legal requirements for a mediator to do CPD. The CMC have guidelines, which they recently updated and these provide useful advice to mediators, but no one is strictly compelled to adhere to them. If you are a member of a mediation panel they may also have their own set of standards they like their mediators to adhere to. Examples of these include:
Find a mediator mentor and explore peer review, reflective practice and supervision
In a similar vain to CPD, no mediator is compelled to take on ongoing review. However being a mediator can be a solitary profession and it is always a valuable exercise to have a peer or a mentor to support you in reviewing your mediation practice from time to time. A mentor can be viewed as an example of excellence. Different mediators approach mediations in different ways and if they observe you as part of a peer review they may help you to reflect on your approach to hone your skills and adopt new best practice.